Clarke couldn’t help but feel disappointed and a little betrayed as she left the apartment for her brunch date with Octavia. All morning, the unmade sofa bed had been a glaring reminder of her departed house guest, along with the now useless cat stuff in the corner and the empty space for her favourite shoes.
She didn’t really want to go to brunch. To be perfectly honest, Clarke didn’t really want to leave her apartment at all. She wanted some time to process what had happened the day before and exactly how that changed her entire world view. Witches, for real? But on the flip side, after the events of the previous day, maybe Clarke did need a little bit of normality and to make up for kicking Octavia out the night before.
She shivered in the cold air outside the building and huddled deeper into her thick coat. As Clarke walked to the subway and made her way into the city centre, she tried to think up a convincing tale to tell her best friend regarding her now non-existent cat and missing witch hunter. At least something along the lines of “ we met at the pet store, I invited her home with me, she left the next day and stole my shoes. Forget you ever saw her, ” wasn’t so far from the truth.
The bell above the coffee shop door jingled when Clarke entered, her tale well-spun and ready to be told. The warmth inside was welcoming after the October chill that bit at her exposed cheeks and nose. Octavia waved her over, already seated in a booth beside a condensation covered window looking out on the street.
‘Hey, Griff,’ Octavia winked as she sat down. ‘I did wonder if you were going to make it or come up with some bullshit excuse to stay with your sleepover buddy. But I ordered for you just in case.’
Clarke cringed at how convinced Octavia was that she and Lexa had spent the night together all hot and steamy.
‘Thanks, O, but there was no need to worry about that,’ Clarke confessed. ‘She left before I woke up this morning.’
Octavia’s jaw dropped. ‘No way!’
Clarke merely nodded. She didn’t want to give herself away so she settled on looking like it was planned. ‘We agreed it would only be a one night thing.’
‘Mhm,’ Octavia looked skeptical. ‘Bullshit.’
Fuck. Clarke was so bad at lying, she didn’t know why she even bothered.
Octavia squinted at her. ‘You’re gutted she left you.’
Well yeah , Clarke thought, but not for the reasons you think . At least Octavia made Clarke’s fiction easier to tell by adding her own analysis of the situation.
A barista bustled over with a tray. ‘Double shot pumpkin spice cappuccino and a hazelnut whip latte.’ They thanked him and took sips of their respective drinks.
‘So,’ Octavia prompted, not nearly done with their conversation. ‘What are you going to do about this hottie situation? What was her name again?’
‘Lexa,’ Clarke answered. ‘And nothing. She left without saying goodbye, or leaving a note, or her number. So I think the message is pretty clear. And if that’s the way she’s going to be then I want nothing to do with her anymore.’ All the thanks I get for saving her from being stuck as a cat for the rest of her life.
Octavia raised an eyebrow. ‘How did you even meet? It’s unlike you to pick up a randomer since we ditched the old college club scene.’
‘We were both at the rescue shelter and got talking,’ Clarke shrugged self-consciously. ‘It kind of spiralled after that and we ended up back at mine.’
‘For hot sex,’ Octavia nodded knowingly, ‘gotcha.’
If only . Clarke hid her blush with a gulp of coffee.
Octavia seemed to accept the situation and moved on. ‘How’s the cat?’
And that was the bit Clarke dreaded getting to. ‘Uh, I don’t know. She’s gone.’
‘What!’ Octavia almost knocked her drink over. ‘Gone? When?’
Clarke shrugged. ‘I don’t know. I woke up this morning and the cat was gone. She must have gotten out somehow.’
Octavia’s eyes narrowed. ‘That’s suspicious: both Lexa and your cat gone before you woke up.’
Clarke’s heart thumped and waited for Octavia to call her out.
‘Do you think Lexa stole your cat?’
Clarke choked a little on her coffee. ‘What? No!’
Octavia wasn’t listening. ‘Think about it though: you both met at the rescue centre - was she there to find a cat herself? Did you get the cat she wanted? She left early in the morning, that’s plenty of time to get the cat and go while you’re still asleep.’ Octavia nodded to herself as though she had solved the mystery. A regular Sherlock Holmes.
Clarke shrugged, not wanting to latch onto the idea too quickly in case it gave away her lack of an actual reason for her cat to be missing. ‘Maybe, but she didn’t seem like a catnapper.’
‘They never do,’ Octavia said sagely. ‘Please at least tell me the sex was good? You need something positive to take away from this experience. Maybe you could rebound at Raven’s party next week, now you’re back in the game?’
Clarke swallowed before answering the reel of questions with what would have to be lies. She glanced out of the misted window to avoid Octavia’s pitying gaze and couldn’t believe her own eyes. ‘Holy shit, there she is!’
Dressed head to toe in black, with no right to look so good, Lexa leaned against a motorbike and frowned while she spoke into the phone pressed to her ear. Her hair was pulled back in a braid and she had a duffel bag slung over one shoulder. Clarke felt furious.
Before Octavia could object, Clarke was on her feet and storming out of the coffee shop to demand an explanation. But when she stepped outside into the chill autumnal air, Lexa was gone.
‘Jeez, Clarke!’ Octavia followed her out a moment later, Clarke’s coat and handbag in hand. ‘Where is she?’
'She was here a moment ago,' Clarke craned her neck to look down the street and spotted a brunette braid weaving through the crowd. She couldn’t believe it, was Lexa running away from her? She set off in pursuit with Octavia in her wake. The high street was busy, and Clarke jostled a few people as she forced herself against the current of the crowd, eyes fixed on Lexa’s retreating back.
Despite Lexa’s headstart and quick pace, Clarke steadily gained ground. At least until some chick full-on body checked her and nearly bowled her over.
‘Watch where you’re walking!’ The girl yelled. She wore a hooded jacket and had a large scar on her cheek.
Octavia, never one to back down from a confrontation, jumped in to defend Clarke. ‘Why don’t you?’
‘Leave it, it was my bad.’ Clarke searched again for Lexa’s figure in the crowd but couldn’t spot her. She quickly continued in her chase, scanning ahead.
She walked for another hundred metres but didn’t catch sight of Lexa again. Defeated, she stopped and sighed.
‘Where is she?’ Octavia shoved Clarke’s coat and bag into her hands. Clarke hadn’t noticed how cold it was in the heat of the moment, but now her finger tips were numb and she started to shiver. Octavia took pity on her fumbling and helped her with the zip.
‘I’m not sure,’ Clarke blew hot air onto her cold hands. ‘I thought she had come this way, but I lost her after that girl walked into me.’
‘Are you sure you even saw her, Clarke?’ Octavia looked concerned. ‘Or did you just see someone who looked like her?’
Clarke felt utterly bewildered and questioned her memory. ‘I could have sworn it was her,’ she replied hesitantly. ‘Maybe I was wrong.’
‘Or maybe you just wanted it to be her,’ Octavia pointed out. ‘But while we’re here, let's go in there and warm up. Drinks are on you this time.’
She indicated towards a small independent cafe on the corner of the street with a faded sign that read “The Trading Post”. It looked like it had just appeared out of nowhere as Clarke hadn’t noticed it at all. Maybe there was indeed something wrong with her eyes. Clarke followed Octavia into the premises.
Inside the cafe felt like a totally different world. A blanket of warmth enveloped them as they stepped through the door and the noise of the street was cut off once they passed the threshold. The light was dim and the only source appeared to be from scented candles placed around the walls, and those hipster Edison light bulbs in wire framed lampshades that had no glass in the panes. Octavia hated those things.
The furniture was worn and wooden with an assortment of cushions decorating each chair, and various sprigs of plants on each table. The room was empty except for them. Octavia took a seat at a table with a bright red flower and a curled spike as its centrepiece.
Clarke couldn’t see anyone else there to take their orders. She made her way to the counter in the corner to see if there was a bell, just as a tall and slender blonde woman stepped out of a doorway at the back of the room.
‘Welcome to The Trading Post, I haven’t seen you in here before, darling. It must be my lucky day,’ the waitress winked. Clarke was flattered if not a little taken aback at the woman’s brazen approach. She could practically hear Octavia roll her eyes from behind her. ‘What can I get you?’
It must have been something in the air that made Clarke feel emboldened enough to be just as flirtatious. And why shouldn't she be? She flicked her hair over her shoulder and leaned an elbow on the bar top. ‘I’m undecided, what would you recommend?’
The woman raked her eyes up and down Clarke’s figure, not even trying to be subtle. Her expression changed as she made a decision and gave Clarke a pensive look. ‘I think you’re after something sweet, of the like that you’ve not felt in quite some time. I’ll make you up something special, give me a moment and I’ll bring it over to your table.’
‘No problem.’ Clarke thought that was the most baffling way to suggest a custom coffee, but she couldn’t help but be intrigued. ‘Can I get a latte for my friend as well, please?’
The woman threw her an enigmatic smirk and Clarke, quite confused, settled at a seat opposite Octavia.
‘This place is weird,’ Octavia mumbled.
Clarke shrugged. ‘I think it’s quaint. I’m amazed I’ve never even noticed this place before.’
Octavia looked unimpressed. ‘So are we going to talk about you imagining and then running after the woman that you, and I quote, “want nothing to do with anymore”?’
‘Nope,’ Clarke huffed, but she just couldn’t bring herself to be mad whilst sat, warm and cosy, in that little shop. The candles flickered merrily and cast playful shadows against the walls.
‘Here you go,’ the waitress appeared beside the table with their drinks. She placed mismatched mugs down in front of Octavia and then Clarke. ‘A latte for you with a shot of joy, and a cinnamon and viscaria chai infusion for you.’
‘That sounds interesting,’ Clarke commented, taking a sniff of the drink. ‘It smells divine!’
'What's in mine?' Octavia asked, eyeing her latte suspiciously.
‘Just a little pumpkin spice and everything nice,' the waitress chimed. Octavia didn't like her tone.
Clarke took a sip and felt a calm spread down her throat to her chest and all the way through her body to her fingers and toes.
The waitress gave Clarke a warm smile. ‘If you need anything, just shout; I'll be out back.'
As soon as she was gone, Octavia grabbed Clarke’s arm across the table. ‘What is going on? How come you get the flirty waitress giving you personalised orders and I get a passive aggressive latte? “ A shot of joy ”, what the fuck is that about?’
‘I’m sure she was joking, O,’ Clarke reassured her. ‘You heard what's in it: pumpkin spice and everything nice. I'm sure it's just a syrup combo or something. How does it taste? Mine tastes amazing.’
Octavia tried the latte and reluctantly admitted that it tasted delicious.
Clarke felt light and carefree. The tension she held in her muscles seemed to evaporate away. Was it possible to feel like a balloon floating on air? Because that’s how Clarke felt. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Across the table, Octavia started to giggle.
‘Clarke you need to try this.’ She passed over her drink and took an uninvited slurp of Clarke’s instead. ‘Oooh, that does taste nice.’
Clarke tried some of Octavia’s latte and got a hint of vanilla. ‘Mmm, we should come here all the time.’
‘What a great find. All thanks to your imaginary girlfriend,’ Octavia nodded with a snort of laughter. Clarke chuckled too, and a moment later both of them were in hysterics and banging their fists on the table.
‘What the fuck is going on?’
Clarke turned around to find yet another tall blonde woman appear from the backroom doorway. This one, however, did not seem as friendly as the waitress. In fact, with the glare she shot at Clarke, she shouldn’t be allowed to work in customer service at all. She had stern eyebrows and angular cheekbones. The waitress had a broader and more round face. Less pointy.
‘They’re my customers, Anya,’ the waitress appeared behind the angry woman, exasperated. ‘This business doesn’t exist just to cater for you two. It’s nothing to be worried about, they’ve just had a complementary custom cocktail.’
‘Your potions fall very close to being a concern for us, Niylah,’ another female voice added from behind the waitress. The speaker stepped into the room and Octavia shrieked with laughter.
‘It’s Lexa! Clarke, it’s your hat stand!’
Clarke giggled and waved at Lexa, who stood stock still in the doorway, green eyes wide with surprise. Anya and Niylah looked questioningly between Lexa and Clarke.
'You know her?' Niylah questioned.
Anya raised an arched eyebrow, amused. ‘Hat stand?’
‘I have no idea,’ Lexa shrugged. Octavia continued to mumble about hat stands as though trying to remember something. ‘What are you doing here, Clarke?’
‘I’m having a drink with my friend,’ Clarke explained, raising Octavia’s cup as proof. ‘My friend who won’t leave with her shoes.’
‘What?’ Anya had no idea what she meant. Nor did Lexa. 'Why won't she have her shoes?’
‘Night stand!’ Octavia announced triumphantly, spilling a puddle of Clarke’s drink. ‘One night stand! You’re Clarke’s one night stand!’
Lexa opened her mouth to object as Anya and Niylah turned to her with looks of surprise and accusation respectively.
‘No,’ Clarke drained Octavia's cup and stood up shakily. It was like her legs weren’t there, she was floating on clouds. ‘Lexa is my cat.’
Somehow, out of all the nonsensical things that had been said, that one had made sense. Realisation dawned on Anya. ‘Oh, this is the hot blonde that adopted you.’
Clarke practically skipped the few steps across the room to the trio and launched herself at Lexa, who barely had time to prepare herself before Clarke crashed into her. Octavia got unsteadily to her feet.
‘I knew I saw you,’ Clarke beamed, arms around Lexa’s neck. Lexa’s hesitantly rested her hands on Clarke’s hips. To keep her steady, of course. ‘I tried to follow you and I ended up here.’
Niylah huffed and scowled at the pair. ‘Of course she did.’
Clarke patted Lexa’s cheek affectionately. ‘You have my shoes.’
'What is her obsession with shoes?' Anya muttered, arms crossed.
‘I returned the shoes that I borrowed to your house this morning. You weren’t in.’ Lexa tried to explain, but Clarke wasn’t listening. She was preoccupied with Lexa’s leather jacket collar.
‘This is sooo smooth,' she cooed, running her hand along the lapel. 'Like your fur. I was sad this morning when you were gone.’
‘Are you sure you didn’t sleep with her?’ Anya questioned.
‘Yes, I’m sure. What the hell did you give her?’ Lexa hissed at Niylah. ‘It’s like she’s high.’
‘She’s not the only one,’ Anya nodded towards Octavia, who was still struggling to walk. Her face was screwed up in concentration, focused on her feet. 'This chick is having one bad trip from whatever you gave her.'
A look of dread appeared on Niylah’s face. ‘Oh no.’
‘What?’ Lexa growled, moving her head away from Clarke's wandering hands that kept trying to pet her.
‘Umm, they swapped drinks.’ Niylah’s eyes darted between the cup on the table and the one in Octavia’s hand.
‘And what was in these drinks, exactly?’
‘This one, Clarke, had a forgetfulness potion for heartache, and that one was meant to have a pick-me-up potion. She has some deep-set anger, and Clarke's whole aura radiated heartbreak.’ Niylah explained.
‘Her name is Octavia,’ Clarke interrupted, practically hanging off Lexa’s neck.
'You might want to revise your quantities. I think you made them a little strong,' Anya gestured to Clarke.
Niylah swallowed. 'I thought they needed it.'
‘So I get that blondie’s now high as a kite,’ Anya crossed her arms and tried to work out the situation. ‘But what’s happened to her? That is not what recovery from heartbreak looks like. Trust me.'
Niylah looked worried. ‘Well, it’s still a forgetfulness potion, it’s just targeted at the effects of heartache. If there aren’t any...’
‘It’s just a forgetfulness potion,’ Anya finished. ‘And she’s forgetting basic things.’
‘How long will this last?’ Lexa demanded, her teeth bared.
‘Only a few hours,’ Niylah assured. ‘I swear. They’ll get sleepy as it wears off.’
‘You’d better be right,’ Lexa warned. ‘Or I’ll be back here for you, regardless of how useful your information has been in the past. Anya, help Octavia walk. I’ve got Clarke. Let’s get them to the truck and you can get them back to Clarke’s. I'll take my bike and you can follow me there.’
‘Woah, no. I am not driving anywhere with Speedy and the Space Cadet.’ Anya objected.
‘Well I can’t exactly take them both back on my bike,’ Lexa pointed out. ‘How about we swap? I take the truck, you take the bike?’
‘Fine, whatever. Don’t scratch it.’ Anya threw her keys to Lexa. ‘Where’s your bike?’
‘On High Street.’
‘What’s it doing there? That’s ages away,’ Anya moaned.
‘You didn’t tell me where we were meeting, so I parked centrally.’ Lexa gently pushed Clarke away so she could move. ‘Here, take my jacket. Helmet’s in the box.’ Lexa shrugged off her leather bike jacket and handed it to Anya.
‘You're very hot,’ Clarke crooned, tugging at Lexa’s white t-shirt. ‘You look even better without this though. I’ve seen your abs.’
Anya made a retching sound and Niylah walked out of the room. Lexa batted away Clarke's hands. She felt pretty warm despite her lack of jacket.
‘C’mon Ahn, get Octavia.’ Lexa led Clarke out the back exit of the shop to where Anya’s pickup truck was parked. She opened the door and tried to persuade Clarke to get in, which resulted in her promising that Clarke could see her arm tattoo if she sat quietly in the back.
A minute later, Anya emerged with Octavia in a fireman’s lift over her shoulder. She unceremoniously dumped her on the back seat, ignoring Octavia’s demands to be unhanded.
Anya wagged a finger at her partner. ‘You owe me.’
‘No I don’t.’ Lexa hopped up into the driver’s seat. ‘I won’t be back at the house tonight; I’ll stay to make sure they’re both okay.’
‘Yeah sure,’ Anya rolled her eyes. ‘I’ll see you and your heart eyes tomorrow.’
Lexa glanced in the back seat to find Clarke happily playing with Octavia's hair, while Octavia lay curled up emitting a low and constant groan. Lexa pulled out of the small car park and set off to Clarke's apartment.
Thankfully, the journey was uneventful. Lexa fiddled with the radio and found a station playing chart hits which Clarke sang enthusiastically along to. When they pulled up to Clarke's apartment block, Lexa's back seat passengers were verging on sleepy.
'C'mon you two,' Lexa opened the back door to let them out. 'You can sleep once we're in the apartment. Clarke, do you have your keys?'
Clarke, finally coming down from her high, blinked slowly and nodded. Lexa felt like she was speaking to a small child.
'Can you open the door to your building for me while I help Octavia?'
Clarke nodded again and slid out of her seat to the pavement. Lexa grabbed the still groaning Octavia by her feet and pulled her out of the car enough to be able to carry her in her arms.
'You stole Clarke's pussy,' Octavia slurred as Lexa carried her into the building. 'After you saw her cat. That's not very nice.'
Lexa had no idea what she was trying to say, but the tips of her ears burned red nonetheless.
It took an exhausting fifteen minutes for Lexa to coax Clarke up the stairs to her apartment. By the time they got through the door Lexa's back ached from carrying Octavia.
Lexa lay Octavia down on Clarke's bed and told her to sleep. At least Octavia was easy enough to deal with. Clarke, she suspected, would be more challenging. And she was right. Clarke was face down on the sofa with one shoe on and the other on the coffee table. Her coat was on the floor.
'Let's get you to bed, Clarke,' Lexa murmured, rolling her over.
'I thought you'd never ask,' Clarke sighed sleepily. 'I knew you wanted to see me naked.'
Lexa flushed. 'No, Clarke, not like that. You and Octavia need to sleep off the potions.'
Clarke shook her head adamantly. 'Gross, I will not sleep with Octavia. She's like my sister.'
'No, just sleep , not sleep with.' Lexa debated just picking the woman up and plonking her on the bed beside her friend, but Clarke slowly sat up of her own accord and Lexa hoped she had understood.
'You don't want to sleep with me?' Clarke pouted.
'Uh,' Lexa panicked. 'N-no, Clarke, you've basically been drugged.'
'So you don't find me attractive?' Clarke's wide blue eyes started to water.
Oh no. Lexa quickly tried to backtrack. 'I do, really. But I don't want to take advantage of you when you're like this.'
It didn't work. Clarke’s lip trembled and she began to sob.
Lexa tried to apologise and wipe away her tears but Clarke slapped her hands away and ran to her bedroom, bawling. The door closed with a slam.
Lexa heaved a deep sigh. At least both Clarke and Octavia were in Clarke's bedroom, which had been her aim. She just hoped they didn't remember much of the experience once the effects of the potion wore off.
She took a few moments to formulate a plan for how to spend the rest of the afternoon, which had rapidly become the early evening, before her two charges woke up again.
First on the list: ensure the apartment had the proper protections. Second: make them some hangover food. They were going to need it.